All student loans need to be repaid once you leave school. In addition to the amount you borrow, you will also be charged interest on your student loan. You will end up paying back much more than you borrow. There are many things to consider before borrowing student loans, including what is your projected income and job outlook and whether you have exhausted all other resources, including any savings, scholarships, grants, employer tuition assistance, and choosing a more affordable (or even debt-free school). Down the road, failing to make student loan payments on time can have many negative impacts.
In this guide
- Best Private Student Loans for College
- Best Interest Rates
- Best Rewards
- Best for Borrowers without a Cosigner
- Best Cosigner Release Option
- Best Flexibility for Repayment
- Best Deferment Options
- Best Customer Service
- Best Bank Lender
- Best Private Student Loans for Graduate School
- Best Private Student Loans for Parents
Best Private Student Loans for College
Savingforcollege.com evaluates a full range of private student loans and has developed a methodology for ranking them based on a set of objective criteria. Below is our current list of the ten best private student loans available for undergraduate college students. Be sure to pursue your other options, such as scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans, before turning to private student loans to fill any funding gaps you may face.
Best Student Loans by Category
Best Interest Rates
Best for Borrowers without a Cosigner
Best Cosigner Release Option
Best Flexibility for Repayment
Best Deferment Options
Best Customer Service
Best Bank Lender
Try to limit your total student loan debt at graduation, including federal and private student loans, to no more than your annual starting salary. If your total student loan debt is less than your annual income, you should be able to afford to repay your student loans in ten years or less. Keeping your student loan debt in sync with your income after graduation will help you afford your monthly student loan payments.
Experts recommend borrowing federal loans before private loans. Most federal loans come with many benefits that private loans do not, including potential for subsidized loans (where interest is paid during times of payment pauses), the possibility of loan forgiveness, the ability to make payments based on your income, and the option to pause payments if you lose your job or have an economic hardship.
First, have you exhausted all other resources (e.g., scholarships, grants, employer tuition programs, lowering your college costs)? Second, have you already borrowed the limit on your federal student loans? If you still need money to pay for school and decide a private loan is right for you, be sure to borrow responsibly. Needing to borrow private or parent loans may be a sign that you’re borrowing more than you can afford to repay.
There are many things to consider when choosing a private lender. You’ll want to think about what interest rate is offered, what the terms of the loan are, do you meet the requirements for approval (i.e. do you need a cosigner), what repayment options do they offer and what reviews say about them. If you need a cosigner, you might also want a lender that offers a cosigner release. You may also want to know if they offer any deferment options, whether there are options to pause your payments if you lose your job and whether your loans will be forgiven if you become disabled.
Each lender has different qualifications for approving a private student loan application. Many require a good credit score, no recent bankruptcies or other negative events, attending an accredited school and having a steady job. Since many private student loan borrowers don’t have much of a credit history yet, often a cosigner is required for approval.
Because many private loan borrowers have a limited credit history, a cosigner is often required for approval of a private student loan. Federal student loans do not require a cosigner.
A cosigner should be a responsible adult with strong credit and consistent income. Anyone who cosigns a student loan should understand how it works and the potential risks. Cosigners are just as responsible for repaying the debt as the borrower. Being a cosigner impacts your credit and will increase your debt-to-income ratio. This could make it more difficult to get approved for other credit, such as buying a home.
Some private lenders offer an option for a cosigner release. This means that eventually, once specific requirements are met, a cosigner can be released from their obligation to repay the loan. Often a lender will require a set number of consecutive on-time payments (such as one, two, three or four years) and the borrower meeting the current requirements for loan approval on their own.
Most private student loan lenders offer several options for repayment. Many lenders give borrowers the option to completely defer, or postpone, payments until after graduation or when enrolment drops below half-time. Other common options include making fixed payments or interest-only payments while still in school. There is often a grace period (usually 6 months) after you graduate or go below half-time. After the grace period is over, you will be required to make full payments.
Fixed rates remain the same throughout the life of the loan. Variable interest rates can go up and down. Borrowers may be persuaded to choose a variable interest rate because it is lower, but keep in mind, this interest rate can increase and eventually exceed the interest rate offered by the fixed rate option.
Savingforcollege.com may receive a sales commission from some private student lenders and other advertisers, but this does not influence our ratings or reviews. Our opinions are our own. While Savingforcollege.com strives to keep the information up to date, the lender rates, terms and other information are subject to change at any time.
Exhaust all other resources, such as scholarships and grants, before borrowing student loans. If you need to borrow loans, federal student loans offer many benefits that private student loans do not. Read the fine print and disclaimer from any potential lender and understand how student loans work before borrowing.
Savingforcollege.com does not provide legal, financial, accounting or tax advice. The information and tools published on this website are general in nature and may not apply to your specific circumstances. You should seek specific guidance from a qualified legal, financial, accounting or tax professional.